We exist because…

We believe the inherent beauty and value of the natural landscape is tied to our cultural history and weaves vitality and meaning into the fabric of our daily lives. We have acquired 430 acres of meadow, forest and historic ranch structures alongside the Eel River to establish a regional park. Our goal is to create opportunities for recreation, culture, agriculture, education and celebration and to ensure the enjoyment of this rich, diverse land for generations to come and to conserve the Park’s scenic, historic and natural resources.

Initially founded under the umbrella of the Southern Humboldt Working Together, the Southern Humboldt Community Park (SHCP) incorporated as its own 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in March of 2002.

Our Non-profit Purpose:

To own, operate and maintain one or more parks for the benefit of the Southern Humboldt Community, its visitors and guests.

The Formation of the Park

“These trees, the river and the glades all belong to the ages” –Mrs. E.N. Tooby

What we all call Tooby Park is more than most eyes see. Not only is there a sunny picnic area, playground and access to the river beach, but a remarkable 7+ acre mature redwood grove.

In 1967 Mrs. E.N. Tooby made this site available to the County of Humboldt to be used by the citizens of Southern Humboldt as a community park honoring the three Tooby brothers. She placed a plaque near the grove with this description: “These trees, the river and the glades all belong to the ages, what they have to offer in inspiration is yours to now enjoy.”

The County was enthusiastic when the family talked about donating this land, but no legal parcel for the park area was created. Instead of assuming ownership, the County entered into a year-by-year lease agreement. When the Tooby Ranch was sold Tooby Park was included in the sale to the Community Park, but the Tooby heirs understood that the County would still want to lease and operate the park.

Maintenance costs were a problem for the County and the Garberville Rotary Club assisted the County with those costs for several years. However, during the 2002 County budget crisis the County realized it could no longer maintain responsibility for the Park. The Southern Humboldt Community Park stepped forward, as the legal owners of the property, and offered to operate Tooby Park. To keep Mrs. Tooby’s inspiration alive, the public enjoyment of this area and protection of the redwood grove has now become part of the broader mission of the Community Park.

With the passing of Mr. Tooby in 1999, the 13,600+ acre ranch that he had owned in southern Humboldt County for the previous several decades came onto the market.

Many residents of the Garberville area had long admired the spacious, fertile, bucolic meadowland stretching along the south bank of the Eel River on which Mr. Tooby had lived and had grazed cattle over the years—something on the order of 500 acres of lightly-used land situated only about a mile from the middle of town. A common apprehension was that this idyllic plot would surely eventually come to be subdivided and lost to unimaginative residential development.

But immediately on announcement of the impending sale of the Tooby Ranch, Stephen Dazey, a local business owner and 30-year resident of southern Humboldt stepped in with a visionary idea: to negotiate the purchase of this uniquely desirable small portion of the Ranch with the goal of establishing it as a locally-controlled, multi-purpose regional park for the permanent benefit and enjoyment of the surrounding community.

Bob McKee, who entered escrow on the Ranch, embraced the concept, but of course he had large financial obligations to meet, so he agreed to the sale of an area which included the roughly 430 acres which were to become the Park for  $1,125,000, provided a down payment of $ 600,000 could be delivered by the October closing date.  Mr. Dazey immediately embarked on a marathon campaign to inspire the community’s enthusiasm and financial commitment to the project, and, under the auspices of an existing local non-profit umbrella group (Southern Humboldt Working Together), was able to assemble donations and arrange loans sufficient to meet that deadline.

Public Use of the Park

In soliciting donations for its purchase, a broad range of potential public uses for the projected Park were suggested. (To see the possible uses suggested in the Park Proposal packet dated October 18th, 2000 please Click Here.)

Several public meetings were held to get a sense of which of these directions had the most immediate public support.  The new entity, the Southern Humboldt Community Park, was incorporated on March 5, 2002 as a non-profit public-benefit corporation under the broad concepts of social, civic, educational, and recreational purposes, qualifying for tax treatment under IRS code section 501(c)(3).

A board of six directors with varied and complementary skills and experience was assembled to serve as a governing body.  In addition to the usual responsibilities of such a board, the Park’s board solicits project ideas from groups in the community which are prepared to implement those ideas, and approves those which can be executed consistent with the Park’s stated goals.  The Board sees that potential interferences among projects are avoided and establishes agreements with the various users to that end, but does not initiate, or take responsibility for the execution of, specific projects (outside of maintenance and infrastructure improvements for the Park in general).

Initial Community Process

In 2002, the Southern Humboldt Community Park conducted a series of community meetings that include two scoping sessions with facilitation and an all day Conceptual Design Charrette with three architects; Kash Boodjeh, Tyler Holmes and Martha Jain, all serving as advisors. The three workshops were titled: The Long-term/Future Possibilities, The Near Future, and a Conceptual Design Charrette. The Design Charrette was made possible specifically by the donation of talent from the three architects. The community sessions were funded in part by the Humboldt Area Foundation.

These facilitated public planning efforts led to the development of the Park’s Stewardship Priorities.